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About this Poem 

“It’s strange how summers from different decades can be yoked together by memory in a single poem. That’s what happened here.”
Linda Pastan

Summer Triptych

1.
The world is water
to these bronzed boys
on their surfboards,
riding the sexual waves
of Maui
like so many fearless
cowboys, challenging
death on bucking
broncos of foam.

2.
On the beach at Santorini
we ate those tiny silverfish
grilled straight from the sea,
and when the sun went down
in the flaming west
there was applause
from all the sated diners,
as if it had done its acrobatic plunge
just for them.

3.
Swathed from head to toe
in seeming veils of muslin,
the figure in the Nantucket fog
poles along the shoreline on a flat barge.
It could be Charon transporting souls
across the River Styx, or just
another fisherman in a hoodie,
trolling for bluefish
on the outgoing tide.

Copyright © 2015 by Linda Pastan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Linda Pastan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan

The author of many collections of poetry, Linda Pastan's book Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 was nominated for the National Book Award

by this poet

poem

for F.

For Jews, the Cossacks are always coming.
Therefore I think the sun spot on my arm
is melanoma. Therefore I celebrate
New Year's Eve by counting
my annual dead.

My mother, when she was dying,
spoke to her visitors of books
and travel, displaying serenity
as a form of manners, though
2
poem
The way a birthmark  
on a woman’s face defines 
rather than mars
her beauty, 

so the skyscrapers—
those flowers of technology— 
reveal the perfection 
of the garden they surround.        

Perhaps Eden is buried 
here in Japan,
where an incandescent 
koi slithers snakelike 

to the edge of the  pond; 
where a
poem
I'm only leaving you
for a handful of days,
but it feels as though
I'll be gone forever—
the way the door closes

behind me with such solidity,
the way my suitcase
carries everything
I'd need for an eternity
of traveling light.

I've left my hotel number
on your desk, instructions
about the dog
and heating